As it’s Mental Health Awareness Day I thought I would finally share something that I’ve been meaning to put out there for some time…
I want to talk about PTSD. Nope, I’m not a war veteran. Nope, I didn’t have a traumatic childhood. Nope, I haven’t had a bad accident. I haven’t experienced an assault, been held hostage, a natural disaster, terror attack…. What the F am I talking about then?
Becoming a parent.
That’s right, the one amazing moment that EVERYONE says is the best, happiest and most amazing experience of a person’s life. Society makes us feel we should be lucky to have got pregnant, lucky to have carried our children, lucky our babies came into the world and survived. However, for so many mummies and daddies this is not their feelings.
We’re then made to feel BAD for feeling unhappy, uncomfortable or disappointed with how our new arrival entered the world. Made to feel we should be GRATEFUL for the gift of our children.
So, STOP your complaining or STOP feeling these things. Right?!
WRONG! Stop press people…BIRTH TRAUMA IS ABSOLUTELY A THING AND WHY DO WE NOT TALK ABOUT IT???
By pushing it behind a curtain, by not talking or sharing our experiences, we’re fast becoming a society whereby we just hide from things that are difficult to talk about.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m forever grateful to God for my little girl. She’s the most precious, wonderful, and joyful little squishy that brings me so much happiness. But her arrival was ANYTHING but beautiful. Hell, the first few days WERE traumatic. Not just for me, but for my partner too (Heck, he had to experience my 56 hour labour and be a standing participant in it all! Not to mention following the incubator down the dark corridors whilst Doctors and Nurses resuscitated our little girl, stuck tubes and needles into her, going about saving her life).
And you can’t forget or un-see those things.
I honestly don’t want to sound like I’m whinging. I know we’re lucky our little girl survived and other parents have far worse experiences, I just want to raise awareness and tell Mummies and Daddies, IT’S OK! It’s OK to feel sad, distressed, nervous. It’s ok to experience flashbacks, nightmares, and reliving the experience. What is NOT OK, is NOT talking about it.
Something needs to change (or perhaps people just don’t know where to look or ask!). Of course I was asked by my Community Midwife and Health Visitor if I was OK, by my GP (9 1/2 weeks after babe had arrived!) whether I was ‘depressed’, by friends and family how I was HEALING. I didn’t and still have never been asked about birth trauma (or whether I might have any PTSD symptoms). I personally don’t think I have, but other’s DO have these things and it’s just not being asked. That makes me sad. So many new Mummies and Daddies could possibly be going through some serious shiz (as well as being new parents!) and it’s just not addressed.
I don’t know a single new Mummy who hasn’t experienced some kind of traumatic element of their birthing experience. So why are we not routinely talking about it like we do post-natal depression? We SHOULD be routinely talking about it and opening up this conversation. Especially considering how many parents I know who have experienced some level of trauma in the arrival of their bundles of joy.
I know we’re in an age where healthcare budgets are tighter than a tight thing, where less checks are being done with new mums because funding is just not there. However, considering how prevalent post-natal depression and other mental health conditions are in our society we need to be talking about these things more.
So. I ask you this on Mental Health Awareness Day. REACH OUT! Reach out to your new Mummies, your friends who’ve recently (and maybe not so recently) given birth. Get them to share their birthing experiences. Lets TALK about birth trauma, make it OK for people to know it’s OK that you found it hard. Lets NORMALISE it!
Written by Hannah Antoniades for her blog, Mummy and Lyla.